Clean your body, home cleaning, and even your pets.

Breaking news: Not all soaps are created equal. And that’s why pure Castile soap—made from plant-based oils—has been lauded for years as gentler and more versatile than any other soap. So what’s the deal with Castile? Ahead, all you need to know about this multi-tasking soap, how to use Castile soap, and the best Castile soap brands to try.

If you’re into home cleaning remedies, then you’re more than familiar with the array of household products that can be used to clean a dishwasher, get that oven clean as a whistle, and fight unsightly mold. But move over white vinegar and baking soda. Instead, it’s time to add another can-do product to our must-have list: castile soap.

Ever heard of it? You’re not alone. Allow us to tell you a little about this beautiful all-purpose soap. Unlike most soaps, castile soap is made from vegetable oil rather than “tallow” (an excellent way to say “animal fat”). That means Castile soap’s nontraditional base makes it cruelty-free and completely biodegradable.

The product originated in Spain’s Castile region (hence the name!), and olive oil was the traditional base fat for this gentle, environmentally responsible soap. But nowadays, it’s made from various vegetable-derived oils, including coconut, avocado, walnut, almond, hemp, and more.

What is castile soap, anyway?

Originally named after the olive-oil-based soaps from Castile, Spain, Castile soaps these days are made from olive and a variety of other oils, all of which are plant-, nut-, or vegetable-derived. (Coconut, hemp, almond, and walnut oil are all commonly used, and castile soap can come in either liquid or solid form.)

Along with these oils, Castile soaps contain lye, which, when mixed with the oil, creates soap molecules. Mix that soap with water, and it creates charged atoms that capture dirt and other grime. (Speaking of skincare, have you heard about the serum that more than a million Amazon users purchased?!)

How does it differ from other soap?

It all goes back to those oils. Traditional soap uses tallow (a.k.a. animal fat), making castile soap a vegan, cruelty-free alternative. (Besides reexamining bath products, here are 12 more things no one tells you about going vegan.) Other soaps and cleaning products may also contain harsh detergents; pure castile soap is natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable. And that’s precisely why it can be used as both a beauty product and household cleaner, working to clean everything from your face to your faucets effectively. It’s also super affordable, so replacing multiple different products with this one all-purpose solution can be a great way to not only save space but some of your hard-earned cash, too. 

The Best Uses for Castile Soap

Honestly, there’s not much it can’t do. Case in point: The OG Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap that you’ve likely seen on Instagram and the like touts 18 different uses. FYI: Pure castile soap is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water, but the exact ratio depends on what you’re using it for.

When it comes to beauty and personal care purposes—using it as a face wash, body wash, shampoo, shaving cream—the water that gets naturally mixed in during the process will be enough to dilute it. (Oh, and since it’s non-toxic, your whole family can use it. it even works as a great dog shampoo.)

For household use, check out all these different things it can do, along with some general dilution guidelines; find these and more here.

  • For a multi-surface cleaner, mix 1/4 cup soap with one-quart water.
  • For a dish detergent, use one part castile soap to 10 parts water.
  • For a floor cleaner, mix 1/2 cup soap with three gallons of water.
  • For a fruit and veggie wash, add one dash of soap to a bowl of water.
  • For a laundry detergent, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup soap per load, and add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle (more on why in a minute).
  • For an insect-repellent for plants, mix one tablespoon soap with one-quart water.

Is there anything I shouldn’t use castile soap for?

Again, as long as you’re diluting it properly, not really. A few caveats: It’s not a great option for color-treated hair, as it can strip out the dye molecules. Also, you don’t want to combine acids (vinegar, lemon juice) with castile soap. Castile soap is alkaline, so the two will essentially counteract one another and result in a leftover film or residue on whatever you’re trying to clean. Still, castile soap can sometimes leave salt deposits behind so that those acids can come in handy afterward.

For example, try using an apple cider vinegar rinse on your hair after shampooing with castile soap, or dip Castile-washed dishes in a vinegar-water solution. 

So now that you know what castile soap is, what can you do with it? We’re glad you asked. We’ve got lots of ways to use castile soap in your everyday daily cleaning, washing, and self-care routines. (And peep a few of our favorite Castile soaps below.)

Take a relaxing bath with it.

Add two tablespoons of Castile liquid soap to a full bath for an all-natural cleansing experience. Unfortunately, castile soap doesn’t bubble on its own, so if a bubble bath is a non-negotiable, add a bit of vegetable glycerin to make that happen. You can also add essential oils for a more pungent scent.

Use it as a natural body wash.

You can use this foamy soap on its own as a body wash. Just like most other shower products, a single squirt on a wet washcloth will do the trick, and the water in your shower will dilute it to the proper potency. But if you’d prefer to add other active ingredients or scents, you can do that, too. Honey, sweet almond oil, Vitamin E oil, and essential oils are all great options.

Make your laundry detergent.

Many commercial laundry detergents are full of unnecessarily strong chemicals. Instead, try adding 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of castile soap to any large load (if you have a small washer, halve these quantities), then add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Use it as baby soap.

Sensitive baby skin needs gentle soap, and we know just the thing. As with all things baby-related, we encourage you to consult your child’s pediatrician before changing anything regarding their routines. But once you’ve got the green light, you can dilute one ounce of castile soap with two ounces of distilled water, then use it to wash your baby. Take care to keep the mixture far from the baby’s eyes.

Use it in your garden.

Get this: You can make your own natural, effective insecticide and fungicide at home with castile soap. Will wonders never cease? Get the complete how-to at Going Green With a Bronner Mom.

Wash your dogs with it.

Dog shampoo can be overpriced and contain a needlessly long ingredient list. But if you make it at home, you can control exactly what goes in—and save money. Wet your dog’s coat first, then add a few small pumps of castile soap and give him or her a good scrub. Rinse, dry, and you’ve got yourself a shiny new dog at a fraction of the cost.

DIY your dish soap.

Not only will castile soap make washing dishes less expensive, but it’ll also give you zero reason to worry about the skin on your hands and arms every night. Ten parts warm water to one part castile soap is all you need to make the washing solution of your dreams.

Clean your whole house with it.

Feel like getting carried away? Go right ahead! You can use the soap to make an all-purpose, clean-nearly-everything spray simply by adding 1/4 cup to 1 quart of warm water and pouring the mixture into a spray bottle. Then spray (dirt and grime) away!

Get ants out of your home.

It’s hard to believe that anybody doesn’t love castile soap, but it’s true: A few critters find it wholly displeasing. Luckily, we don’t see them very pleasing. Say goodbye to ants by combining 1/4 cup of tea-tree castile soap with a quart of water. (Don’t spray it directly on plants; this less-diluted mixture is seriously potent and will harm them.)

Mop your floors with it.

Half a cup of castile soap can be added to 3 gallons of hot water to make a delightfully simple DIY mopping solution.

Remove your makeup naturally.

Equal parts of castile soap, witch hazel, and coconut oil make for a good makeup remover. You’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff—we guarantee it.

Clean your makeup brushes.

Warm water and a little bit of castile soap make an excellent makeup brush cleaning solution. Dab the tips of your brushes into the solution, then run them under colder tap water until they’re clean. Air dry, and repeat whenever you feel like your brushes could use a little clean-up.

Clear your sinuses with it.

If you’ve selected a soap containing essential oils, you’ll find it has far more benefits than just cleaning and washing. Fill a large bowl with hot water, add a few pumps or squeezes of soap, and inhale the steam that emerges to open your nasal passages. Pro tip: Wear a towel or sheet over your head to keep the moisture from escaping.

Mix up a DIY foot scrub.

Who needs a nail salon? Make your DIY foot scrub with 1 cup of sugar, one tablespoon of castile soap, two tablespoons of coconut oil, and a few drops of peppermint oil. Apply it to your tired feet before you polish, and you’ve got yourself a Pedi that rivals the pros.

Try it as shaving cream.

The Vedi site suggests the following measurements for a shaving cream made from castile soap. Face ten drops; underarms: 3 drops; legs: 1/2 tablespoon. Work it into a lather and get to it!